Tuesday, April 01, 2008

China Under Attack by Invasive Species

Invasive species are proving to be an increasingly more burdensome consequence of our global economy. For example, zebra mussels from southeast Russia are causing havoc around harbors and power plants in the US where they have no natural predators. The mussels probably arrived in the bilge of trans-Atlantic freighters, and now cost the US $5 billion a year to control.

Over in China, at least 400 species have invaded,
according to a New Scientist report. The combined cost of controlling these invasive species is about $14.5 billion annually.

Aiding in the spread and severity of China's invasion is the proliferation of sea, air and rail ports (the number of which has doubled to 253 since 1987) and multi-lane highways (which have exploded from 1000 kilometers in 1988 to 40,700 in 2005).

Certain to be a particular area of concern is China-US trade. Both countries occupy generally the same latitudes, reports New Scientists. Thus, species from one region will find a comfortable, possibly predator-free environment in the other.

One recent example of an unwelcome import is the fall webworm, which is terrorizing native Chinese plants. Researchers believe the worm is "capable of defoliating more than 200 species of native plants." This includes cash crops.

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